CLIMATE EDUCATION FOR THE AMERICAN PUBLIC
The climate crisis is an urgent problem requiring urgent solutions. In addition to science and governance, education must be a central part of the solution to our climate crisis. Climate change education, from primary school through adulthood, is an indispensable part of the societal transformation that is necessary to address the climate crisis. It is imperative that we create a generation of climate-literate and empowered young people by training grade-school teachers to bring climate change information into their classrooms. Further, interdisciplinary climate education must also be weaved into the fabric of undergraduate education, to ensure that the world’s future decision-makers are equipped with the knowledge to create solutions to the crisis we have left them. And lastly, education needs to come to today’s generation of adults via trusted community leaders.
The work of education is cultivating the signs of healthy, fourishing, and engaged children. In the Platonic sense, education endeavors to nurture logic (truth), ethics (goodness), and aesthetics (beauty). In the words of the Holy Father Pope Francis, “The mission of schools is to develop a sense of truth, of what is good and beautiful. And this occurs through a rich path made up of many ingredients. …True education enables us to love life and opens us to the fullness of life.” —Address with Italian schoolteachers, parents, educators, pupils and other workers, May 10, 2014
GLOBAL COMPACT ON EDUCATION
The quest for a sustainable planet and for a sustainable humanity must include cradle-to-grave climate literacy for everyone, including children in kindergarten, college students, and grown-ups all the way to senior citizens. In this chapter, we outline such a cradle-to-grave education protocol called Bending the Curve that has been initiated by academics and researchers at the 10-campus University of California. Bending the Curve is an accessible, adaptable and highly scalable set of educational tools that can increase climate literacy for all in this moment of climate urgency.